Tuesday, March 21st, 2023

The Blanche M. Baker Foundation: organizational meeting notes

Blanche M. Baker
Blanche M. Baker



Meeting Notes by W. Dorr Legg

Six friends of the late Blanche M. Baker, M.D., Ph.D., met at 3:30 P.M., August 16, 1962, in Los Angeles to take action on various proposals which had been under discussion since her death December 11, 1960, at her home in San Francisco, for establishing a Foundation in her name. Present were: William F. Baker, San Jose; Dr. Harry Benjamin, New York City; Frederic Frisbie; W. Dorr Legg; Donald R. Slater, all of Los Angeles; Dr. Merritt M. Thompson, North Hollywood.

It was agreed that the afternoon’s proceedings should be conducted informally. F. Frisbie was asked to preside; W. D. Legg to keep an in- formal record of the discussions. The chairman first read a resolution previously adopted on January 27, 1961 (see attached copy) and suggested that an agenda of topics for discussion formulated at an earlier meeting on January 30, 1962 (see attached copy), be used as a guide for the afternoon’s proceedings. This was found agreable (sic) to all. The present Reports the discussions in the order indicated on said agenda, although this was not in all cases the order in which they came up for mention.

Under the heading (a) the chairman called for nominations for officers. This led to discussion of a number of possible ways for incorporating the proposed Foundation and agreement that before nominating any officers it would be best to have a complete roster of individuals who would act as actual incorporators and be termed directors, trustees, members, or whatever.

The chairman then asked those present to signify their willingness, or otherwise, for acting in such capacities. William.F. Baker so signified, expressing pleasure at the prospect of a Foundation to be set up in the name of his late wife. Expressing their great interest in the project Slater and Legg declined because of other commitments. Dr. Benjamin wished it to be understood that he could not accept a position calling for active duties. On being assured that active duties and the major part of the administrative work would necessarily be assigned to persons other than the incorporators (i.e., an.executive secretary or perhaps employees) Dr. Benjamin accepted. Given the same assurances Dr. Thompson accepted. Frisbie declined because of other commitments.

The belief was expressed that legal requirements for incorporating would call for not less than three residents of the State. It was also pointed out that those who had already accepted as incorporators lived at great distances from each other and that having a quorum present for business meetings might not always be possible; hence, that there should be five incorporators. Considerable stress was laid upon the value of having at least one of them a woman. A number of names were then discussed (see attached list) as persons who should be approached to serve as possible incorporators, or in other capacities. Each person present was asked to submit additional names later.

Under the heading (b), Articles of Incorporation and Stated Purposes lively discussion brought about general agreement that the Articles of Incorporation should be kept as simple as possible and be set forth in general terms to allow for flexibility in the future development of the

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Foundation. It was felt that the principal focus of the Foundation’s activities should be concerned with making human sex life healthier and more wholesome in a broad framework of human freedoms. While it was expressly stated that no special aspects of sexual expression or freedom should be emphasized in the Foundation’s program that this should not be construed as excluding any aspect of sexual expression or freedom from the Foundation’s interests.

Under the heading (c) it was agreed that framing of the By-laws could well be deferred until after incorporation had actually taken place.

Under the heading (d) Methods of Financing, there was general agreement that persons of means and others should be solicited to contribute toward the Foundation’s goals if they indicated an interest in such. Several present stated that they knew of persons who it was believed would support such aims financially, once the Foundation was actually under way. Emphasis was laid on the need for keeping the entire program of the Foundation strictly in line with taxation requirements, so that individuals could take their annual tax deductions without any question for any gifts made to the Foundation. It was suggested that a tax attorney be consulted in this respect.

Under the heading (e) Functions and Activities, extended discussion led to agreement in general terms that the proposed Foundation should maintain a publication for general circulation containing a Questions and Answers Department somewhat along the lines of Dr. Baker’s own magazine column, “Toward Understanding,” preferably to be conducted by a woman doctor or psychologist; that it should also maintain a program of public education by means of lectures and other activities somewhat along such lines as those developed by Hirschfeld at his famed Institute in Berlin.

Other suggested function[s] of the Foundation were agreed to be appropriate, as: maintaining clinical services (psychological and medical — general medical practice being handled on a referral basis); giving research grants and conducting research (including publication of research results). A possible training program for Foundation specialists, or others, was felt to be not inappropriate, but too utopian for immediate consideration.

There was general agreement that the proposed Foundation’s program probably would get under way in very modest fashion and consist at first mainly in the sponsoring and aiding of work undertaken by persons and organizations already at work in the Foundation’s field of interest but that if circumstances later made it possible the Foundation could then take on more activities along such lines as described above.

Under the heading (f) there was quick agreement that the Foundation should have affiliation with no other organizations of any sort, but that it might properly collaborate with other organizations or with individuals carrying on work whose aims and objectives were deemed by the Foundation to be worthy of support.

On public relations (g) it was felt that such matters should be handled by a professional public relations man. On (h) the attached list of names was felt to be satisfactory, but that others should be

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added in whatever capacity of support they might be willing to offer; that there would be various classes of membership as determined by the degree of each individual’s participation in the Foundation’s program.

After it was pointed out that (j) and (k) hod already been treated as fully as was then possible full discussion followed of (1) the location of headquarters for the Foundation. It was suggested that they be in Baker’s house in 5an Jose. There was some disagreement concerning this proposal with the majority feeling that San Francisco, the site of many years of Dr. Baker’s professional work, would be more appropriate.

Various recommendations were that in San Francisco: a postbox be rented (Rincon Annex); mail be directed to an attorney’s office (such as Morris Lowenthal’s, a friend of Dr. Baker); an answering service
be used (rejected); that mail and inquiries be directed to the offices of the printing firm employed to issue the Foundation’s proposed publications (idea to be explored). No decision was reached on headquarters, in view of the greater urgency of consulting with on attorney who would prepare papers for incorporation, after acceptances had been had from the five persons who would act as incorporators.

Under the heading of general discussions there was no disagreement in the choice of title as BLANCHE. M. BAKER FOUNDATION. Dr. Thompson inquired if her papers and published writings might not yield statements eminently suitable for use in setting the general tone of the Foundation’s aims and purposes — within such a general framework as already adopted as the particular field of its activities and described above. Further general discussion pointed out that while the central focus of the Foundation’s interests would be that of making human sex life healthier, this should not be construed as excluding, for instance, a topic such as overpopulation or (Baker’s suggestion) the role of sex
as a cultural aspect of [s]ociety.

The meeting adjourned at 5:00 P.M. with a request that copies of a digest of the afternoon’s discussions be mailed to each person present at the earliest possible date; that active steps toward incorporating the Foundation along such lines as agreed upon above should proceed forthwith


In view of Dr. Baker’s often-expressed, deep concern with the need for a continuing study of the homophile question in all its varied aspects, and to promote and extend this assignment to which she was so devotedly committed, and to enlist and encourage support for this work among the highest professional levels:

It is hereby resolved to found and establish the Blanche M. Baker Foundation to conduct and to sponsor educational efforts, research, publication and councselling [sic] services in the,interests of homophile men and women.

William F. Baker, San Francisco; Harry Benjamin, M.D., New York City; Frederic Frisbie; W. Dorr Legg; Don Slater, all of Los Angeles.

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  1. Officers
  2. Articles of Incorporation, including Stated Purposes
  3. Bylaws of the Foundation, providing for its actual administration
  4. Methods of financing
  5. Planned functions and activities of the Foundation
  6. Policies on suitable relationships with other organizations
  7. Public relations policies
  8. Suggested lists of proposed members (classes thereof) & supporters
  9. Educational programs, If any
  10. Research programs, if any
  11. Location of headquarters


  • Virginia Armon, Ph.D., psychologist, Los Angeles
  • Karl M. Bowman, M.D., psychiatrist, Berkeley
  • Ray Evans, Ph.D., psychologist
  • Gerald Heard, author, Santa Monica
  • Evelyn Hooker, Ph.D., psychologist
  • Aldous Huxley, author, Beverly Hills
  • Kimmis Hendrick, editor, Los Angeles
  • Eric Julber, attorney, Los Angeles
  • Morris Lowenthal, attorney, San Francisco
  • Otto Qppenheimer, businessman, Beverly Hills
  • Paul K. Rowan, Ph.D., sociologist, Los Angeles
  • Veta Somers, Ph.D., psychologist, Los Angeles

The above list represents names suggested at meeting of August 16, 1962, at which time it was agreed that additional names of interested persons should be submitted by each person in attendance at the meeting.


Additions to or corrections of above report should be made as promptly as possible.

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posted 05.16.2016

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